PRESS THE HEADLINE TO COMMENT
Well, we survived E3-2015 in Los Angeles this year, and it was impossible not to talk about Virtual Reality. Microsoft's HoloLens made a big splash, and here's four reasons why they might be onto something:
The Price/Form Factor - As a standalone unit, Hololens isn't tethered to an expensive $1000 - $1500 PC or a $400 Playstation 4. We don't know the Hololens's price yet, and it may be unfair to compare since it's got a smaller field of view and different tech goals and capabilities. I believe VR won't really pick up momentum until the form factor looks more inviting, like a lightweight pair of sunglasses or ski goggles that you're not embarrassed to wear in public. This ideal form factor may still be many years away, but for now, HoloLens looks more like it. Combined with a potentially lower price, it may drive mainstream adoption faster and beyond just the hardcore gamer/tech geek crowd.
Augmented vs. Virtual Reality - We're big fans of differentiation, disruption, and "blue ocean" as UX product strategies here at AMPED-UX. All the existing or planned VR platforms put users in a "replacement reality" that cuts them off from the outside world. That's fine - I'm a predominantly "wanderer/immersion-seeking" type of gamer that loves escapist experiences, but even with introducing some multi-player features, VR still strikes me as kind of an "anti-social" UX value proposition. HoloLens blends the virtual and the actual, so parents will know that their kids are looking at something that augments their existing environment. This is a strong market differentiator that could increase parents' comfort level and awareness of what their kids are experiencing with the technology. More importantly, if parents approve the tech, retailers will be more likely to carry it, driving sales and adoption.
Voice Recognition - Even though I struggle to do anything useful with Siri besides phone calls and texting, I think Voice Recognition will only grow as a natural input method over time. Although Sony could theoretically integrate Voice into its Morpheus VR strategy, there's little indication anyone other than HoloLens is doing so. With two generations of Kinect technology under their belt, Microsoft may be in a unique position to leverage their expertise in this area to provide a more intuitive, natural user experience.
Minecraft - Showcasing HoloLens with Minecraft might be one of the shrewdest, clutch marketing moves of E3-2015. Remember, consumers bought the original Nintendo Wii as a Wii Sports box to play with Grandpa over Thanksgiving. While I don't doubt that VR will produce an amazing variety of super-immersive user experiences, all Microsoft needs to do is brand Hololens as the "MINECRAFT 2" headset and they'd have the next kid-centric killer-app phenomenon on their hands. The mainstream mega-marketability of the Minecraft brand easily dwarfs the combined appeal of all current VR efforts combined.
So, do you think HoloLens is onto something, or is it the next Kinect?